India Open: Sindhu dispatches Intanon, storms into final

Sindhu will take on Beiwen Zhang in Sunday’s final; Shi Yuqi to clash with 2017 runner-up Chen.

P. V. Sindhu in action in the second women’s semifinal, against Indonesia’s Ratchanok Intanon. Sindhu will have little rest before the final.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Defending champion P. V. Sindhu produced a scintillating exhibition of controlled stroke-play to outplay former World Champion Ratchanon Intanon 21-13, 21-15 in 48 minutes to enter the final of the USD 350,000 India Open badminton here Saturday.

Taking the court at 10 pm in what was the last fixture of the eight-match card on the TV court, Sindhu lost the first two points but then reeled off 12 points on the trot to lead 13-3. The 10-point lead provided enough cushion for Sindhu to stay in control.

Sindhu’s cross-court smashes and deft touches at the net kept Intanon, seeded three, guessing. Sindhu, who won her previous encounter against the Thai girl during last year’s Hong Open to bring her head-to-head record to 2-4, showed some exceptional anticipation.

In the second game, Sindhu never trailed and broke away decisively at 16-14 to hold six match-points. Intanon saved one when Sindhu erred on the forehand but off the next points, failed to control her deep
return.

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However, owing to the poor scheduling of the semifinals, the exhausted winner Sindhu will take on a well-rested Beiwen Zhang in Sunday’s final. Zhang finished her exactly match five hours before Sindhu did.

See-saw battle

The 11th-ranked Zhang, seeded five, battled for 63 minutes to overcome sixth seed Cheung Ngan Yi 14-21, 21-12, 21-19. Zhang got her game together in the second game and carried on the momentum to hold four match-points in the decider. But the Hong Kong girl valiantly saved three match-points before she missed a dribble from Zhang.

The men final will offer third seed Chen Tien Chen an opportunity to do one better than he did last year. The Chinese Taipei player, runner-up to Viktor Axelsen here in the last edition, overcame unseeded Chinese Qiao Bin 23-21, 21-16. In the title-match, he faces another fourth seeded Chinese Shi Yuqi.

Iskandar's run ends

The 2017 All England runner-up Shi Yuqi needed 69 minutes to end the dream run of World No. 86 Iskandar Zulkarnain 18-21, 21-10, 21-19. The Malaysian, the back-to-back conqueror of second seed B. Srikanth and Sameer Verma, held a 16-12 lead in the decider before the eighth-ranked Shi Yuqi’s relentless attack finally found a way through his defences.

In fact, the point of the match came when Shi Yuqi held two match-points at 20-18. In a 42-shot rally, Zulkarnain came out stronger after the Chinese netted a forehand. However, off the next point, the match stood decided when Zulkarnain misjudged the flight of the shuttle that fell ‘in’.

In mixed doubles, the lone Indian pair of eighth seed Pranav Chopra and N. Sikky Reddy lost in straight games to their higher-ranked Danish rivals.

The results (semifinals, prefix denotes seeding)
  • Men singles: 3-Chen Tien Chen (Tpe) bt Qiao Bin (Chn) 23-21, 21-16; 4-Shi Yuqi (Chn) bt Iskandar Zulkarnain (Mal) 18-21, 21-10, 21-19.
  • Women singles: 1-P. V. Sindhu bt Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) 21-13, 21-15; 5-Beiwen Zhang (USA) bt 6-Cheung Ngan Yi (Hkg) 14-21, 21-12, 21-19.
  • Men doubles: 1-Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Ina) bt Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-11, 21-16; 4-Kim Astrup and Anders Skaaru Rasmussen (Den) bt Han Chengkai and Zhou Haodong (Chn) 21-19, 21-14.
  • Women doubles: 3-Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu (Ina) bt 1-Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen (Den) 21-14, 19-21, 21-18; 2-Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha) bt Du Yue and Li Yinhui (Chn) 21-19, 21-17.
  • Mixed doubles: Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti (Ina) bt 6-He Jiting and Du Yue (Chn) 21-19, 24-22; 5-Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedersen (Den) bt Pranav Chopra and Sikki Reddy 21-16, 21-19.